MAPLE CITY — Buckley kept it close for a half.
Then Leland poured it on.
The Comets scored five second-half goals Friday to earn a 6-1 victory that clinched their second straight Division 4 district soccer championship.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead after the first 40 minutes as Buckley packed in its defense, Leland struck three times in the first seven minutes of the second half to take control.
“We played a lot more in the corner and wide and got some balls slotted in to open players to finish in the middle,” said Comets forward Noah Fetterolf, who had a goal and two assists.
The Comets advance to play the winner of this afternoon’s matchup between North Muskegon and Muskegon Catholic Central in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. regional game at Muskegon Western Michigan Christian.
Leland defeated North Muskegon 6-2 this season, but fell to Catholic Central.
“We lost 1-0 to them, but I think they’re definitely a beatable team,” Fetterolf said. “We just didn’t play very well. We were off.”
On Friday, the Comets struck 1:08 into the second half on a Henrik Ohr goal set up by Fetterolf. Just 1:18 later, Leland was up 3-0, as Cameron Stowe cashed in on the rebound of a Fetterolf shot.
“We got that quick one in the second half,” Leland coach Joe Burda said. “We had tons of chances in the first half. It could have been 6-0 at halftime, but we had 10-yard shots we just couldn’t finish.”
Omar Roman’s goal in the 47th minute put the Comets (19-3-1) up 4-0 and in control, even before the Bears were handicapped by a red card to Jake Burgess that left them a player short the rest of the game.
“The red card really hurt us,” Buckley coach John Vermilya said. “The center ref felt one of our players whacked a kid from behind. I didn’t see it, but what can you do? He’s not going to change the call and you have to respect the decision. That skewed the number a little bit to play almost the whole second half down a guy.”